The importance of ensuring safe-guarding of plant and equipment

This News Blog is to raise awareness on the importance of ensuring our safe-guarding of plant/equipment continues to meet WHS Legislative requirements and cannot be easily removed without tools.

“In January 2013 a worker at Olgas Fine Foods Pty Ltd suffered a crush injury to the hand when checking the drive chain of an automated conveyer used to prepare schnitzels. The drive chain was easily accessed while operating via a latch on the guard panel.”

The WHS Regulations (section 208) states the following about guarding:

  • If guarding isn’t fixed, interlocked or presence-sensing, it must be a “physical barrier that can only be altered or removed with the use of tools”.  AS4024 defines a tool as an “implement such as a key or wrench designed to operate a fastener.  An improvised implement such as a coin or nailfile cannot be considered to be a tool”.
  • “Guarding (must be) of solid construction and securely mounted so as to resist impact or shock, and makes bypassing or disabling of the guarding, whether deliberately or by accident, as difficult as is reasonably practicable.”

This case demonstrates injuries can and do occur when safe-guarding is not effectively secured.  It should also be noted that although the individual was not fined in this case, the WHS Act allows for penalties to the worker and the supervisor, not just to the organisation should they place themselves or others at risk of injury.

Recommended actions

  • Forward this information to any supervisor and workers who use safe-guarded plant;
  • Communicate this information to your Health and Safety Committee(s) at your next meeting as an example of why it’s important to be/remain vigilant with guarding;
  • Encourage a review of safe-guarding in your School/Branch during your next Workplace Inspection; and
  • Where an item of plant/equipment is identified which requires further investigation in relation to compliance, tag the item of plant/equipment out, in accordance with the tag out procedure (Plant/Equipment Safety Management – Appendix D), until further review can be undertaken to make safe.

Further information

Should you require further information on safe-guarding and legislative requirements please see the following links:

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact your HSW Division/Faculty Manager.

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